RIP Brass Volcanoes Ltd.
Well my Christmas song hasn’t exactly gone viral but I’ve had some kind comments, raised a bit for Crisis homeless charity, and learned quite a bit in the process. I’ve sent it to the BBC listening service, that promises to listen to the tracks you send it and forward it to any programmes that might be interested in it. I’ve heard nothing, other than the fact that they listened to it. It’s done though, and is out there to entertain anyone who cares to listen for years to come. I may re-record some or all of it in the future and see if I can do a better job. In the mean time I’m starting to think of a song for next Christmas!
I formally closed my business bank account for “Brass Volcanoes Ltd.” which handled all of the bands I booked. I set this up a few years ago to allow me to use the full £80 000 of turnover per annum for fixing bands before having to register for VAT. A friend of mine had fallen foul of this and had to re-mortgage his house to pay the fines and bills. The whole process meant taking on an accountant, for a period setting up a PAYE scheme before I was told this was a waste of money, running a company, paying Corporation tax, changing accountant when I felt they didn’t have my interests at heart, and then this year looking back over my turnover and realising it had been a pointless waste of time and money as my turnover had never been high enough. So I have had to pay my accountant more to close the business.
The bitterest pill to swallow is that as a result of this farce, in the government’s eyes I am not classed as self employed, and nor am I employed, so I have not received any of the support that most of my other musician friends have gratefully received. I have to keep reminding myself that many people are in a much worse position, and I am not the only one to have been treated unfairly in the government handouts.
This week I applied for a job working for the vaccination programme - as a "vaccinator" (sounds sinister!), or administrator . I needed to provide a CV, something which I haven’t done for over 20 years. I dug out an old CV and quickly updated it. There is no indication what the rate of pay would be if I got the job, but I’m assuming close to the minimum wage.
Bicester Village have again come to my rescue with a little collection of outdoor gigs in the run up to Christmas, so I’ve been updating my pad of Christmas songs and playing for the shopping public. With London being put into “Tier 3” this week, the highest tier for restrictions, all indoor gigs have now been cancelled.
We are told there is a slightly concerning variant of the virus that has popped up in the South East of England. It is hoped that the new vaccines will still work with this variant, but I can't help wonder if this is the beginning of another year of the pandemic ahead.
The government restrictions have been eased over Christmas, but with recent surges in the virus the government has strongly urged everyone to minimise the celebration this year, avoiding long journeys, staying at other people’s houses and gathering together indoors. We are bracing ourselves for letting my mother-in-law and sister-in-law down by not visiting them in Devon this year as promised.
A small positive is that the months of this pandemic has given me a certain amount of battle-hardiness. Remarkably I’m not feeling as low as I would have expected to feel in the circumstances. Keeping up with practice on my instruments makes me feel like I’m still using the time profitably, so that when eventually we get back to performing I hope I will be a better musician than I was last March.